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When the gifts aren't ready

Only minutes after getting tucked in, a child in this house is usually completely lost to the dense interior of the Land of Nod. 

One time, after saying good night, I left her to her sleep and was cheered to…

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Celebrating the summer by breaking the silo effect

This summer was more about recreating old music than creating new music, and for very good reason. 

Many piano students are victims of the silo effect. The student takes solo lessons, practices in a corner, learns music that he doesn’t…

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Ode to an influencer

“How did you get started in music?”

I once read a variety of answers to this question and was struck by a common theme. Just about everyone mentioned one person in particular. There was one person in their lives, outside…

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Does it have to be difficult?

Several popular playlists have a piano solo which, if I had written it, I would have dismissed as too easy. It uses simple chord progressions and could probably be played with one hand. 

“But it’s good,” my husband said. He…

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Taking Andrew Peterson out to lunch

Poor authors. Together with their publisher they hone their book, fuss over every detail, and broadcast, broadcast, broadcast its existence and purpose and still — people in its intended audience don’t get the point. 

I heard more buzz about Adorning

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For the money

I blogged a couple weeks ago about the Trapp Family Singers. We have their story and The Sound of Music for one simple reason. Captain von Trapp’s bank failed. They went public with their singing for the money. 


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I'll take a piece of everything.

I had a keyboard synthesizer in high school with an onboard multitracker so I could layer recorded sounds. It was pretty sweet technology in its day. In college I told another composition student about it. 

“Don’t use it,” he urged. 

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Do kids learn music faster than adults?

“I’ve heard that kids learn music faster than adults,” said one of my adult students. My own observations from teaching piano are the contrary.* Adults quickly catch on to concepts that grade schoolers take years to mount. 

But the kids…

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On liking music

One way or another, it's back to school month. And one way or another, it's back to music studies for many families. So you'll see a couple posts this month with thoughts on music education. Here's the first serving, something

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In defense of Glo - and different tastes

I’ve made peace with the fact that a divergence in taste is rarely a cosmic injustice. 

It took me some time. I remember being in a chat circle as a young teenager not long after Switchfoot released their second album…

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From sunlight to song

We drove home from Nutter’s Ice Cream in an unforgettable evening light. Daughter exclaimed at the frozen explosion in the west, issuing a red-pink brilliance so thick it seemed like the sun had literally rested on that corner of Jefferson…

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Music is about communication

“Giving a speech isn’t like performing a musical instrument; it doesn’t have to be perfect.” 

I heard this in my college speech class, and it didn’t sit right. I had been to musical performances that hadn’t been perfect, but they…

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Bless the limitations

The Spirit of Jefferson and Farmer's Advocate published a story this week about the Battlescapes project. Reading it was like opening a time capsule; I had been interviewed for it four months ago. Already since then, I’ve mentally moved on…

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There were hits before radio

Hit songs are hits for a reason. There’s a combination of catchiness, uniqueness, and lyricism that wins so much loyalty that the song becomes self-propelling. 

The very idea of a hit song seems to begin with radio and vinyl records…

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Playlist Round-Up

I was nursed on light jazz and CCM, weaned on secular and Christian rock-alternative, tutored by Bach and Beethoven (and spanked by Rachmaninoff), described by Sara Groves, and charmed by samba, bluegrass, Yo-Yo Ma, and Edgar Meyer. 

In my late…

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Songs that fascinate me

Sometimes certain songs become a kind of study. Here are a few that have my attention either because of the composition, mix, or instrumentation. 

“Siren” by Samuel Sim was the theme music to the British Home Fires series. A female…

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Music is a servant

Music is a servant. Sometimes it is center-stage, but usually it’s supplementing some other thing. It’s the soundtrack to a film, or the animator of a dance, or the atmosphere of a party, or the distraction-soothing ambience of the office. 

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What I learned in jail

“Her name’s Becky.”

That’s the description I once heard of the average listener of Christian radio. 

Having answered to that name before, I searched inside for a witty comeback and never found one. 

I’m not enamored with the music of…

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Capturing a piece of life in the Indiana EP

I'm still testing out this analogy, but I often think that life is like a vine. Beauty - the delight and interpretation we derive from life - is the wine, extracted from the vine in a process of violence and…

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The risk of inaction

We finally got one of those family photos where everyone looks pretty good in a beautiful destination. Now I know why they are a popular thing to share:

They’re costly.

There’s a lot of risk represented in the picture. It…

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Music in wartime

“It almost makes you want to go to war.” 

Such was the effect of the fife and drum corps at colonial Williamsburg as they marched by.

Music in wartime is an ancient tradition. Why? Why should something so beautiful, lively…

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Down-Home Domestic Art

Literature professor Laurence Perrine sums up literature as either interpretative or escapist (or a blend thereof). A classicist might instead say the function of literature is to teach and delight. 

I think these categories can be applied pretty well, in…

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